• The Brandr Group Denied Pause on EA CFB Acquiring Team & Player Rights

    Following The Brandr Group's (TBG) lawsuit accusing Electronic Arts of attempting to circumvent their group licensing contracts, TBG sought and was denied a temporary restraining order against the developer to prevent any additional offers to schools or athletes for appearing in EA SPORTS College Football.

    After failing to win the bid to help acquire player rights for the title (EA ultimately signed a deal with OneTeam Partners), TBG filed a lawsuit claiming that EA is attempting to circumvent their group licensing contracts. Days later, TBG filed a request for the temporary restraining order.

    In spite of the lawsuit, EA SPORTS told The Athletic that the game is still on track for a summer 2024 release and that they had not yet made any monetary offers to players for their likeness to be included in EA SPORTS College Football.

    Per The Brandr Group's website, athletes under an agreement with them are still free to pursue individual NIL deals. However, their website FAQ states that any entity that attempts to license more than three athletes with school marks meets the 'group threshold,' which is where their negotiating aspect would enter the picture. (It is currently unknown where the number three was determined to constitute a 'group.')

    Following TBG's request for a temporary restraining order, media outlets began to report that the game could potentially be delayed. However, Andrea Hopelain, Senior Vice President, Brand, EA SPORTS & RACING at Electronic Arts, tweeted the following:

    Friday, United States District Judge Haywood Gilliam rejected The Brandr Groups motion to issue a temporary restraining order against EA Sports in the Northern District of California court. The court noted that even if athletes IP and name, image and likeness are used in the game, the rights are not licensed together nor contingent on one another. What appears to be at stake here, then, is simply the possible monetary benefit that Plaintiff could receive from creating co-branding licensing opportunities that package a schools IP and students NIL rights together, Gilliam wrote. Plaintiff attempts to couch the loss of this co-branding opportunity as irreparable harm. But this too falls short.

    Timeline (Some dates may be approximate)

    May 17 - EA Sports representative confirms to ESPN that it has contracted with OneTeam Partners to "facilitate collegiate athletes' names and likenesses" into EA SPORTS College Football.
    June 20 - The Brandr Group sues Electronic Arts over the companys attempt to acquire player name, image and likeness rights while circumventing The Brandr Groups group licensing contracts with schools. The lawsuit alleges that EA promised to enter into direct agreements with TBG at all schools where TBG has rights. EAs Chief Business Officer Paul Cairns also stated the company, 100% plans to work with TBG."
    June 21 - Athlete Advantage, which represents more than 100 college football players, released a statement to On3 backing The Brandr Groups lawsuit.
    June 22 - EA Sports tells The Athletic that the recent lawsuit from The Brandr Group will not impact the games planned release date in summer 2024 and that the company has not yet made any monetary offers to players for their likenesses to be included in the game.
    June 23 - The Brandr Group files a request for a temporary restraining order that would prohibit EA from offering deals to schools and athletes at issue in the lawsuit.
    June 27 - EA files response, arguing that The Brandr Group has no claim over any athletes.
    June 30 - Court denies The Brandr Group's temporary restraining order motion against EA Sports.
    August 15 - Case Management Conference, which is when a court date could be agreed upon.

    Information in this article gathered from: The Athletic, The Brandr Group, ESPN, Front Office Sports, On3.


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    This article was originally published in forum thread: The Brandr Group Seeks a Pause on EA CFB Acquiring Team & Player Rights started by cdj View original post